Valerie Thornton writes poetry, short stories and creative writing textbooks. She also teaches creative writing and edits anthologies.
Her latest books are The Young Writer's Craft, (Hodder Gibson, 2008) and The Writer's Craft (Hodder Gibson, 2006). Both are creative writing textbooks for school pupils. They each include a section on grammar and literary techniques, and over 15 inspirational short stories and poems by both pupils and professional writers.
For over 20 years, her poems and short stories have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in the UK, Ireland, Europe (in translation), Canada and America. She has received a Scottish Arts Council bursary, been shortlisted for the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday short story prize and, in the biennial Asham short story prize, she was shortlisted in 2001 and a prizewinner in 2003.
Valerie’s collection of poems, Catacoustics (Mariscat Press) was published in 2000. She has co-edited four volumes of New Writing Scotland and edited three annual anthologies of children's writing from Renfrewshire Libraries. Her first creative-writing textbook, Working Words (Hodder Educational 1995), won joint first prize as Times Educational Supplement Scotland and Saltire Society Scottish Educational Book of the Year. She has developed an online CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course for teachers, for SNAP (the Scottish Network for Able Pupils). Valerie also teaches fiction-writing online for the Open University. A former English teacher, her wide-ranging experience of teaching creative writing over the last 20 years includes working with school pupils from 10 to 18 years old, working with teachers, and leading workshops for many different organisations. Some are mainstream groups in universities, colleges or libraries, others are more specialised: for blind writers; women-only groups; children; or in addiction centres, disability resource centres and secure units for mentally ill adolescents or adults.
She adjudicates competitions (adults' or children's poetry or short stories), gives readings of her own work and talks on 'teaching' creative writing at literary or educational conferences. When she is not working, she enjoys playing penny whistle in a small band and spending time walking and birdwatching on the remote island of Coll. She also enjoys photography and takes the photographs which are used in her teaching books.
Valerie was a member of the Royal Literary Fund's Higher Education Panel and contributed to its 2006 report on student writing, Writing Matters. She has worked for five years as an RLF Fellow at Glasgow University, most recently in the Faculty of Education.